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6 Famous Folk Who Once Drove Taxis

In some cities, driving a taxi is considered an important, valued, even elevated vocation. In London, for example, you need to study and train for about three years before you can get a license. Three fourths of those who begin the taxi training course, never make it to the end. Because of the seriousness with which they take the job, London cab drivers have even been the subjects of brain studies, which have discovered that the cabbies have a larger hippocampus compared with other people.

Unfortunately, here, on the other side of the pond, cabbies are usually looked down upon. But maybe this list of famous folk who spent time driving taxis will help change the image a little.

1. Larry David

larrydavid-thumb-257x278Who can't picture the misanthropic funny-man behind Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm driving a taxi? In truth, David's early career was peppered with a whole host of odd jobs, including limousine driver and--strapped into your parachutes?--bra salesman! Pretty appropriate career choice for the real life George Costanza, eh?

Now Hail This: When David worked as a cabbie, he was living across the hall from Kenny Kramer, who would later serve as the inspiration for Michael Richards' character on Seinfeld.

2. David Mamet

davidmamet460The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright credits his brief period as a Chicago cab driver as on-the-job training for his later career as a writer. Mamet often decried the notion that real writers were trained in the halls of Ivy League institutions and looked to "knockaround guys" like Jack London, Nelson Algren and Ernest Hemingway as his inspiration.

Now Hail This: When it comes to writing, Mamet values life experience over technique and will often compare his favorite writers to cab drivers.

3. Danny Glover

danny-gloverIn 1999, the actor best known for playing an over-the-hill cop in the Lethal Weapon movies, used his leverage as a former San Francisco cab driver to raise awareness about African Americans being passed over for white passengers. In response, Rudolph Giuliani launched Operation Refusal, which suspended the licenses of cab drivers who favored white passengers over black ones.

Now Hail This: Glover's much publicized outrage has spawned countless Internet parodies, aptly titled "The Danny Glove Cab Test." Watch it here.

4. Jimmy Smits

manifesto-jimmy-smits-yl-deHe may have his Masters in Dramatic Arts from Cornell, but for a brief period in the early "˜80s, Jimmy Smits played chauffeur to dozens of rowdy New Yorkers. The cabbie gig lasted only a few months, until he received the pilot script for a new show producer Steven Bochco was developing called LA Law. After failing to impress NBC Executives, Smits booked a $99 flight to the West Coast to audition for Bochco in person.

Now Hail This: As a struggling New York theater actor, Smits acted in off-Broadway plays during the day while driving a cab at night.

5. Paul Stanley

0_61_stanley_paulThe early days of Kiss were not very glamorous for Paul Stanley. His parents were convinced his obsession with rock music was just a fad, and threatened to cut off their schnorer son. What's a guitar wielding frontman of a dingy rock-n-roll band to do? Take a part time job as a cab driver, of course.

Now Hail This: One of the most frequent stops on Stanley's route was Madison Square Garden, where he would drive customers to see everything from Knicks games to Elvis concerts.

6. Philip Glass

070219_glassBefore he penned film scores for The Truman Show and Notes on a Scandal, Philip Glass was just another Julliard-trained composer struggling to make a living in New York City. It was behind the wheel of a cab that Glass worked on Einstein on the Beach, his most recognized opera. Glass loved the independence of being a cab driver, and he kept the job until he was able to earn a living from his music. Of course, financially, he is now the most successful living "˜classical' composer in the world.

Now Hail This: While still a relatively unknown composer, a female customer entered Glass's cab and recognized his music blaring form the stereo. Glass later surprised the woman by revealing his identity.

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This Just In
Police Recover Nearly 100 Artifacts Stolen From John Lennon’s Estate
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Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images

A collection of artifacts stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including diaries, glasses, and handwritten music, has been recovered by German police, the Associated Press reports. After arresting the first suspect, law enforcement is now working to apprehend a second person of interest in the case.

The nearly 100 items went missing from the New York home of the late Beatles star’s widow Yoko Ono in 2006. Years later, German police were tipped off to their whereabouts when a bankruptcy administrator came across the haul in the storage facility of a Berlin auction house. The three leather-bound diaries that were recovered are dated 1975, 1979, and 1980. One entry refers to Lennon’s famous nude photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and another was written the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was shot and killed. In addition to the journals, police retrieved two pairs of his iconic glasses, a 1965 recording of a Beatles concert, a 1952 school book, contract documents for the copyright of the song “I’m the Greatest”, handwritten scores for "Woman" and "Just Like Starting Over”, and a cigarette case.

German authorities flew to New York to have Ono verify the items' authenticity. "She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her,” prosecutor Susann Wettley told AP. When the objects will be returned to Ono is still unclear.

The first suspect, a 58-year-old German businessman from Turkey, was arrested Monday, November 21, following a raid of his house and vehicles. The second suspect is one of Ono's former chauffeurs who has a past conviction related to the theft. Police officers are hoping to extradite him from his current home in Turkey before moving forward with the case.

[h/t AP]

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science
Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics
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iStock

Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.

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